Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya

Top choice in Sagaing

This ‘early offering shrine’ is the most important of the temples on Sagaing Hill’s southern crown and the first you’ll come to on climbing the One Lion stairway. Notice the bronze frogs that serve as a collection box in the rather gaudy Buddha hall – the hill was originally thought to resemble a giant toad, a superstitious blessing that inspired Sagaing's development in the 14th century. The central 97ft-high gilded stupa was originally conceived in 1312.

Legends claim that it magically appeared overnight, built by the local king’s faithful minister, Pon Nya, in a superhuman flurry of activity inspired by a magical Buddha relic that he’d found in a betel-nut box. The myth fancifully claims that Pon Nya himself was of supernatural parentage, his father having ‘flown’ to Sagaing from the Himalayas millennia before, arriving to a curious communion with the Buddha, seven hermits and a flower-bearing orangutan. Burmese genealogy is never boring.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Sagaing attractions

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2. U Min Thonze Caves

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Shin Pin Nan Kain's brass-clad stupa sits on a hilltop that's lower than Sagaing Hill, but has even better panoramas.

6. Thakya Dita Nunnery

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This small pagoda offers nice views over the countryside.

8. Aung San Statue

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